17 February 2019

Tank of SS Prinz Eugen in Split Croatia

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Date: Monday, 27 September 1943
Place: Split, Croatia, Yugoslavia
Photographer: Dr. Gruber

Armoured units of the SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division "Prinz Eugen" and the Grenadier-Regiment 92 passing through the streets of the newly-captured city of Split, Croatia, during Operation Achse. In the foreground: A French-built Hotchkiss H38 tank (captured by the Germans after 1940) of the "Prinz Eugen" Division's armoured company, photographed from a vehicle of the 92nd Grenadier Regiment. Operation Achse (German: Fall Achse, "Case Axis"), originally called Operation Alaric (German: Unternehmen Alarich), was the codename for the German plan to forcibly disarm the Italian armed forces after the armistice with the Allies in 1943. Several German divisions had entered Italy after the fall of Benito Mussolini in July 1943, while Italy was officially still an ally of Germany, despite the protests of the new Italian government under Pietro Badoglio. The Armistice of Cassibile was made public on 8 September. German forces moved rapidly to take over the Italian zones of occupation in the Balkans and southern France, and to disarm Italian forces in Italy. In some cases, the Italian troops, that had no superior orders and suffered many desertions, resisted the Germans, most notably in the Greek island of Cephalonia, where over 5,100 men of the 33rd Acqui Division were massacred after running out of ammunition and surrendering; in Rome, after the royal family and the government had fled, a disorganized defense by the Italian troops stationed around the capital was unable to defeat the German attack. Additionally, individual soldiers or whole units, like the 24th Pinerolo Division in Thessaly, went over to the local resistance movements. Only in Sardinia, Corsica, Calabria and in the southern part of Apulia were Italian troops able to offer successful resistance and hold off the Germans until relieved by the arrival of the Allies.

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16 February 2019

American Gunner Minutes Before His Death

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Date: Wednesday, 18 April 1945
Place: Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany
Photographer: Robert Capa

Leipzig, 18 April 1945, Private First Class Raymond J. Bowman (right) of “D” Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment and his fellow comrade, Lehmann Riggs, set up their .30 Browning machine gun on an open balcony in order to provide cover for the American troops of the 2nd US Infantry Division, who were advancing over a bridge. This balcony had an unobstructed view on the bridge however this same clear view would turn out to be a deadly mistake for Pfc. Raymond J. Bowman. After taking half of the city, the commanding officer ordered the heavy weapons squad to climb to the third floor of the Jahnallee apartment building (nr. 61). Together with them was famed war photographer Robert Capa. Capa, who was standing just a few feet away from Raymond Bowman when all of this occurred, would later have these photographs published in the May 14, 1945 issue of Life magazine, under the headline “Americans Still Died.” However the identity of the men in the picture was a mystery. It was only after Lehmann Riggs himself shared his memories of that day and the family of Raymond J. Bowman, who identified him by the pin bearing his initials on his collar, that the mystery was solved and later revealed. “We had to go across these bridges to get to the other side of the city. They had blocked the bridges with burned-out tanks and streetcars, anything that would obstruct us from going across. There was a park in front of this building, and they were dug in and we couldn’t see them. We had orders to go up to the third floor of this apartment building and set up our guns to spray that area out there in the park to try to keep them pinned down until our troops could cross that bridge.“, said Lehmann Riggs. Adding “We only fired with one person at a time, and we alternated…one person being exposed all the time. I had just been firing the gun, and I just stepped back off the gun and he had taken over. In 30 seconds, I happened to look up and see the bullet pierce his nose. The bullet that hit him killed him, ricocheted around the room, and it’s a miracle that it didn’t hit me. As soon as he got hit, somebody had to take the gun. I had to jump over him and start firing the gun.” Raymond J. Bowman was born in Rochester, New York on April 2, 1924, the fifth of seven children. After graduating high school, Bowman was drafted into the United States Army on June 21, 1943. While serving in Company D of the 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. In January 1944, he was sent overseas to the United Kingdom in preparation for Operation Overlord. Raymond J. Bowman served in France, where he was wounded in action on August 3, 1944. He went on to fight during the Battle of the Bulge and the final battles in Germany. He was decorated with a Bronze Star Medal, an Army Good Conduct Medal and two Purple Hearts. Robert Capa recalled in an interview in 1947: “So it made no sense whatsoever but he (Bowman) looked so clean cut, like it was the first day of the war and he was very earnest. So I said ‘All right, this will be my last picture of the war.’ And I put my camera up and took a portrait shot of him, and while I shot my portrait of him he was killed by a sniper. It was a very clean and somehow a very beautiful death.“ In 2015, the city of Leipzig voted to name the street in which the apartment building is located to “Bowmanstraße”, in honor of Raymond J. Bowman. The renaming took place on April 17, 2016. The apartment building (called Capa House) now contains a small memorial with Capa’s photographs and information about Bowman.

Minutes prior to his death, Raymond J. Bowman (seen left now) with his fellow comrade Lehmann Riggs (on the right). 

Pfc. Raymond J. Bowman after he was struck by the German sniper

 Pfc. Raymond J. Bowman after he was struck by the German sniper. Another soldier of his squad takes over the machine gun

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15 February 2019

Charles Foulkes and Harry Crerar in Dieppe

Image size: 1600 x 1160 pixel. 505 KB
Date: Sunday, 3 September 1944
Place: Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, Normandy, Northern France
Photographer: Unknown

Charles Foulkes (hand on windshield) stands with his patron and protector, Harry Crerar, outside the Mairie in Dieppe, 3 September 1944. When the war broke out, Foulkes was a major with the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. In September 1940, he was appointed General Staff Officer Grade 1 with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and General Crerar noted his outstanding ability and broad tactical knowledge. Lieutenant General Harry Crerar had once described Foulkes as possessing “exceptional ability; sound tactical knowledge; a great capacity for quick, sound decision; energy and driving power.” But on the eve of his first battle, he seemed hesitant and uncertain. At forty-one, Foulkes was a contemporary of Guy Simonds. Both Royal Military College graduates and Permanent Force officers, they started the war as majors and enjoyed subsequent rapid promotion. Similarities ended there. Foulkes was a Crerar favourite, who advanced through staff positions to brigadier.

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"Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45" by Douglas E. Delaney

14 February 2019

General Leese Speaking with Canadian NCO in Italy

Image size: 1600 x 1442 pixel. 443 KB
Date: Friday, 8 September 1944
Place: Somewhere in Italy
Photographer: Unknown

Eighth Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese speaking with Regimental Sergeant Major G.D. Gilpin, 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, Italy, 8 September 1944. The vehicle is a Humber Super Snipe staff car, "The Old Faithful" of Monty (Census No. M239459). The running boards are already deleted. Leese commanded the Eighth Army at the fourth and final battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944 (when the bulk of the Eighth Army was switched in secret from the Adriatic coast to Cassino to strike a joint blow with the U.S. Fifth Army under Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, who Leese disliked working alongside) and for Operation Olive on the Gothic Line later in 1944. His rank of lieutenant general was made permanent in July 1944. The 1st Field Regiment itself landed in Sicily in July 1943 and in Italy in September 1943, providing field artillery support for the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. In March 1945 the regiment moved with the 1st Canadian Corps to North West Europe where it served until the end of the war.24 The overseas regiment was disbanded on 25 August 1945.

Source :
"Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45" by Douglas E. Delaney

13 February 2019

John Crocker and Rod Keller in Normandy

Image size: 1600 x 1314 pixel. 630 KB
Date: Sunday, 25 June 1944
Place: Normandy, Northern France
Photographer: Unknown

Lieutenant-General John Crocker (right) speaking with the troubled commander of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Major-General Rod Keller, 25 June 1944. Ten days after this photo was taken, Crocker - the Commanding General of the British I Corps - recommended that Keller be relieved of his command. Major-General Keller himself was popular with his troops, who appreciated his manners and outspoken language; however, a drinking problem and several breaches of security measures before D-Day cost him the support of both his superior officers and his own staff. During the first month ashore in Normandy, it was noted he was "jumpy and high strung". His immediate superiors in I British Corps and 2nd British Army considered him unfit to command the division, but Lieutenant General Guy Simonds, who was scheduled to command II Canadian Corps upon its activation in Normandy, held off on making a decision about his relief, even refusing a resignation by Keller who himself admitted to the strain. During the Battle for Caen, Keller handled Operation Windsor poorly, sending a reinforced brigade in to handle a divisional operation and delegating the planning to one of his brigadiers. Keller was also reportedly shell-shy by August, and rumours began to spread among the division that "Keller was yeller." Despite the continued complaints from above and below, Simonds, and General Harry Crerar, another of his admirers, refused to relieve him. Fate intervened when he was wounded by friendly fire on 8 August 1944. US bombers accidentally carpet bombed his divisional headquarters during Operation Totalize. Keller received no further active military command. He died ten years later, in 1954, while visiting Normandy

Source :
"Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45" by Douglas E. Delaney

12 February 2019

German Soldiers Surrender at Vilnius (1944)

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Date: Tuesday, 11 July 1944
Place: Vilnius, Lithuania
Photographer: Fyodor Kislov

German soldiers surrender to the Red Army in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, 11 July 1944. The picture was taken by Fyodor Kislov. During the battle for the city, the Soviet 5th Army and 5th Guards Tank Army engaged the German garrison of Fester Platz Vilnius (consisting of Grenadier-Regiment 399 and Artillerie-Regiment 240 of the 170. Infanterie-Division, Grenadier-Regiment 1067, a battalion from the Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 16, the anti-tank battalion of the 256. Infanterie-Division, and other units under the command of Luftwaffe Generalmajor Rainer Stahel. The Soviet 35th Guards Tank Brigade initially took the airport, defended by the battalion of paratroopers; intense street-by-street fighting then commenced as the Soviets attempted to reduce the defence. While the German aim of holding Vilnius as a Fester Platz or fortress was not achieved, the tenacious defence made a contribution in stopping the Red Army's drive west for a few precious days: most importantly, it tied down the 5th Guards Tank Army, which had been instrumental in the initial successes of the Red Army during Operation Bagration. This delay gave German forces a chance to re-establish something resembling a continuous defence line further to the west. Hitler recognised this achievement by awarding Stahel the 76th set of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross awarded during the war. Nevertheless, the outcome fell far short of what the German command had hoped for, and the continuous frontline that was established only held for a short time. Without the traffic network based on Vilnius, the German position in the southern Baltics was untenable. By the end of July, the 3rd Belorussian Front was ordered to conduct the Kaunas Offensive Operation to further extend the gains of Operation Bagration.  

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11 February 2019

British War Correspondent in Holland (1944)

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Date: Sunday, 29 October 1944
Place: Tilburg, Netherlands
Photographer: Unknown

This picture shows a photographer accompanying the British 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division at Tilburg, Netherlands, 29 October 1944. He wore the British Cap (Service Cap) with the British badge for war correspondents. For his pants, he wore a Battledress 37/40 Pattern 37/40 with the British Army leggings and boots. He also wore a USA M1942 parachute jacket in ocher color, shoulder pads with sleeves that bear the insignia with the letters "British War Correspondent". The camera is a German photographic Rolleiflex Automat Type 1B or Type 2 with lens hood attached to the lens. The 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division was an infantry division of the British Army that served with distinction in both World War I and World War II. In World War I the 15th (Scottish) Division was formed from men volunteering for Kitchener's Army and served from 1915 to 1918 on the Western Front. The division was later disbanded, after the war, in 1919. In World War II it was reformed as the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division on 2 September 1939, the day before war was declared, as part of the Territorial Army (TA) and served in the United Kingdom and later North-West Europe from June 1944 to May 1945.

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10 February 2019

SS Paratroopers with Captured British and US Flags

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Date: Thursday, 25 May 1944
Place: Drvar, Croatia, Yugoslavia
Photographer: Unknown

Paras of SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt Rybka's SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 500 posing with trophies flags captured during its daring but unsuccessful parachute assault on Marshal Josip Broz Tito's communist partisan headquarters in Drvar, Yugoslavia, on 25 May 1944. Tito and the communist partisans were financed and assisted primarily by the British and the USA. Over 700 of the 1,000 personnel who participated in this operation, known as Rösselsprung, were killed or wounded. The SS-Fallschirmjägerbataillon 500 was a parachute unit of the Waffen-SS made up of an equal percentage of volunteers from both regular Waffen-SS troops, and more specifically, from officially disgraced Waffen-SS officers and enlisted men who wished to redeem themselves under fire. In other words, it was a unit where dishonored officers and men convicted by courts-martial of minor infractions and currently in disciplinary straits could redeem their soldierly honor by participation in hazardous duties and operations. The first gathering of recruits was at Chlum in Czechoslovakia in October 1943. The SS paras wore standard Waffen-SS tunics and caps with Luftwaffe-issue jump smocks, trousers, boots and M38 helmets. Most of the volunteers appear to have removed the Luftwaffe breast eagles from their smocks. The training was completed at the beginning of 1944. The battalion often acted as a 'fire brigade' in the defense of the Baltic States. The brave paratroopers of the SS-Fallschirmjägerbataillon 500 who survived long enough to see the formation of the SS-Fallschirmjägerbataillon 600 were given back their previous ranks and the right to wear the SS sig rune on 9 November 1944. At least five Scandinavians are known to have served in this battalion. Two companies of the later battalion took part in the Ardennes offensive in December 1944 as a part of the Austrian SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny's 150.SS-Panzer-Brigade wearing American uniforms and using American equipment. Only 180 out of 3,500 Waffen-SS paratroopers survived the war!

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08 February 2019

Ritterkreuz Award Ceremony for Michael Wittmann and Bobby Woll

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Date: Friday, 14 January 1944
Place: Vinnitsa, Ukraine, Eastern Front
Photographer: Unknown

On 14 January 1944, panzer ace Michael Wittmann was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) along with his gunner, Bobby Woll, for their achievements which have so far destroyed 88 enemy tanks. The presentation was made at Vinnitsa, Ukraine, by his divisional commander SS-Oberführer Theodor "Teddy" Wisch, who also nominated him for the Eichenlaub to his Ritterkreuz. This picture shows Wittmann with his crew, from left to right. SS-Panzerschütze Werner Irrgang (Funker), SS-Rottenführer Bobby Woll (Richtschütze), SS-Untersturmführer Michael Wittmann (Zugführer in 13.Kompanie (schwere) / IV.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 / 1.SS-Panzer-Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"), SS- Panzerschütze Sepp Rößner (Ladeschütze), and SS-Sturmmann Eugen Schmidt (Fahrer). Behind them is Wittmann's Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I Ausf.F "S04", with 88 victory rings on its barrel. Actually the Ritterkreuz recommendation sent by Divisionskommandeur Wisch to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) on 10 January 1944 "only" included Wittmann's winnings as 66 tanks, but something incredible happens: in the four day span between the submission of the proposal to the official approval notification, this tank master went berserk and destroyed no fewer than 22 additional tanks to hoist his winning score to a total 88!

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Bombing of Blauwburgwal Amsterdam (1940)

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Date: Friday, 11 May 1940
Place: Blauwburgwal, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Photographer: Cas Oorthuys

This picture shows the building in Blauwburgwal that was struck by a bomb causing severe structural damage. The bomb came from a German Aircraft which was hit by flak over Sloterdijk. It continued its flight, but The pilot decided to release two bombs in case the plane crashed. One of the bombs bounced over the bridge into the water of the Blauwburgwal, the other hit the houses on the corner. Twelve buildings were destroyed and forty-four people lost their lives. This was very much a one-off: the speed of the German occupation meant that Central Amsterdam was hardly damaged at all, though the incident at Blauwburgwal alone cost 44 lives. Blauwburgwal is Amsterdam shortest canal, no more than 100 meters in length and connects the two innermost canals, Singel and Herengracht

Source :
"May 1940: The Battle for the Netherlands" by Herman Amersfoort and Piet Kamphuis
"The Rough Guide to Amsterdam" by Rough Guide

07 February 2019

Practice Jump Before D-Day

Image size: 1600 x 1138 pixel. 580 KB
Date: Saturday, 13 May 1944
Place: Ramsbury, Wiltshire, England
Photographer: Joseph Pangerl

Practice jumps by the Allied paratroopers were common in the months preceding D-Day; this night jump on Douglas C-47 aircraft was made on 13 May 1944. The troopers pictured are members of Headquarters 3.Company / 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (3/502 PIR). From left to right, on the left side of aisle: Captain Edward “Poop” Barrett (S-3 of 3/502), Dell Winslow, Sergeant 1st Class Harwell Cooper, two unknown, Joe Lofthouse, and Bill Cady. Standing at the end of the aisle: unknown and George J. Schwaderer. On the right side of aisle, from right to left: Lieutenant Corey Shepard, Fitzgerald, “Eddie” Edwards, Virgil Thornton, two unknown, Kenneth Cordry, and unknown. The Allies are aware that the greatest weakness of the airborne units lies in their lack of firepower. Equipped with small arms, they are not theoretically capable of fighting against an opponent with heavy armored vehicles. Thus, airborne units are to receive the support of gliders troops: the latter are armed with anti-tank guns, Jeep light vehicles and heavy machine guns,  equipment for sappers. Signal Corps via Joseph Pangerl.

 Another view taken in the same plane, same jump, with Dell Winslow (3/502 Battalion clerk) standing in foreground. This night exercise resulted in many jump- landing injuries that cost the 101st Airborne more than one hundred troopers who would have dropped into Normandy but had to be put out of the lineup. H/502 jumped over the town of Ramsbury, England, and some troopers landed on rooftops or on the hard cobblestone streets!

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"101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles in World War II" by Mark Bando

06 February 2019

KNIL Marching in Australia

Image size: 1600 x 1190 pixel. 427 KB
Date: Monday, 14 June 1943
Place: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Photographer: Unknown photographer from Herald Newspaper

Melbourne, Victoria (Australia), 14 June 1943. Watched by a small boy waving an Australian flag, troops of the K.N.I.L. (Netherlands East Indies Army) move along Swanston Street during the United Nations Flag Day march through the city. During the Dutch East Indies campaign of 1941–42, most of the KNIL and other Allied forces were quickly defeated. Most European soldiers, which in practice included all able bodied Indo-European males, were interned by the Japanese as POWs. 25% of the POWs did not survive their internment. A handful of soldiers, mostly indigenous personnel, mounted guerilla campaigns against the Japanese. These were usually unknown to, and unassisted by, the Allies until the end of the war. During early 1942, some KNIL personnel escaped to Australia. Some indigenous personnel were interned in Australia under suspicion of sympathies with the Japanese. The remainder began a long process of re-grouping. In late 1942, a failed attempt to land in East Timor, to reinforce Australian commandos waging a guerrilla campaign ended with the loss of 60 Dutch personnel. Four "Netherlands East Indies" squadrons (the RAAF-NEI squadrons) were formed from ML-KNIL personnel, under the auspices of the Royal Australian Air Force, with Australian ground staff. KNIL infantry forces (much like their counterparts in the UK), were augmented by recruitment among Dutch expatriates around the world and by colonial troops from as far away as the Dutch West Indies. During 1944–45, some small units saw action in the New Guinea campaign and Borneo campaign.

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KNIL Soldiers with Captured Japanese Flag

Image size: 1600 x 1121 pixel. 583 KB
Date: Sunday, 1 March 1942
Place: Koningsplein Station, Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Photographer: Unknown

Mix Soldiers (European and locals) of the 10th Battalion / 1st Infantry Regiment / 1st Infantry Division of K.N.I.L. (Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger) after the retreat from Zuid-Sumatra at the Koningsplein Station in Batavia on 1 March 1942. Despite this retreat the soldiers pose triumphantly with a Japanese flag seized between Palembang and Oosthaven. The soldier on the right is wearing the K.N.I.L. helmet with emblem manufactured at Verblifa. The rest of the soldiers are wearing the K.N.I.L. helmet without emblem manufactured at Milsco. At that time, the battalion was commanded by Major de Vries; the regiment was commanded by Colonel Struivenberg; the division was commanded by Major-General W. Schilling, and the overal K.N.I.L. forces was commanded by Lieutenant-General Hein Ter Poorten.

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"The Dutch Steel Helmet 1916-1946" by Kevin de Joode

05 February 2019

Heer Officer Served in Luftwaffe Field Division

Image size: 1026 x 1600 pixel. 307 KB
Date: Monday, 28 August 1944
Place: Northern France
Photographer: Bernhard Kurth (PK 698)

This photograph was taken on 28 August 1944 in Northern France by Kriegsberichter Bernhard Kurth of PK (Propaganda-Kompanie) 698, and showed a Heer (Army) officer that served in the Luftwaffe Field Division (possibly 19. Feld-Division [L]). He is wearing a Luftwaffe camouflage smock with the Luftwaffe breast eagle on it, while his uniform is still a Heer one. His helmet is also painted with a rough/textured paint. When the Luftwaffe Field Divisions came under Heer control in November 1943 and were re-designated as Feld-Divisionen (L), Heer uniforms were also adopted at this point, though supply was slow and mixed dress was apparently quite common (if photos are anything to go by). The Jäger Regiments of such divisions wore green waffenfarbe, as they had done in Luftwaffe service. To add even more confusion to the mix, some German units wore Italian Camo instead of their regular issue gear, since they thought it looked nice, and was perhaps more effective than what they were originally given.

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The Grave of Oberleutnant Joachim Sonntag at Rzhev

Image size: 1600 x 1017 pixel. 382 KB
Date: Monday, 30 November 1942
Place: Bossino, Belyj, Rzhev Salient, Soviet Union
Photographer: Achim von Bredow

"Half Jew" Oberleutnant Joachim Sonntag’s grave on the Russian front. This picture was taken in the end of November 1942 by Achim von Bredow, a “37.5 percent Jew” according to Nazi law. Sonntag (20 August 1917 - 29 November 1942) was killed in a place about 30 kilometers southeast of Bossino, Belyj, during the Battle of Rzhev against the Red Army. In the fierce battle at Belyj, the Kampfgruppe Krüger - which was part of the 1. Panzer-Division - managed to resist a massive attack by Soviet troops from the 41st Army. Soviet offensive against the Rzhev salient, held by Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Centre), was launched on 25 November 1942. On its western side, Soviet 41st Army units managed to break through the German defences south of Belyj, advancing deep into the German-held front. However, not only did they fail to seize Belyj, defended by 1. Panzer Division’s Kampfgruppe Krüger – which included Panzergrenadier Regiment 113 (Kampfgruppe von Wietersheim, with the bulk of II./SR 113, I./Panzer Regiment 33 from 9. Panzer Division and II./Artillerie Regiment 73), along with two Kampfgruppen from 246. Infanterie Division and 10. Infanterie Division (mot) plus the Füsilier Regiment ‘Grossdeutschland’ – but they also faced stubborn resistance from other elements of 1. Panzer Division. To face the Soviet breakthrough, Kampfgruppe von der Meden was deployed on the eastern bank of the Natscha River. Under the command of Panzergrenadier Regiment 1, it included II./PzRgt 1 (the only tank unit with 1. Panzer Division), I and II./PzGrenRgt 1 and the Kradschützen Bataillon 1. Gruppe Holste, including Panzerjäger Abteilung 37 and Panzer Pionier Bataillon 37, deployed to the south to defend the vital town of Wladimirskoje. These units were to hold their positions until the relief force, made up of 12, 19 and 20. Panzer Divisions, dealt with the enemy breakthrough and restored the defence line. Although the attack by the 41st Soviet Army focused on Belyj, its 1st Mechanized Corps pressed on, and by 27 November had managed to cross the Natscha River in several places to the north and the south of Bossino. Only the stubborness of Kampfgruppe von der Meden’s units, most notably of Kradschützen Bataillon 1, prevented an enemy breakthrough and complete disaster. However, Kampfgruppe von der Meden’s defence line was broken into two; from now on the northern group at Stepankowa could only be supplied via a path opened across the woods. The German situation worsened on 28 November when a new Soviet attack southeast of Belyj broke through the defences and opened the way to the Soviet 47th Mechanized Brigade’s drive north. The stubborn defence put up by the Germans and a slowing in the Soviet attack (particularly with the decision to focus on Belyj) prevented outright disaster, but the German situation gravely worsened. Between 29 and 30 November the gap between Kampfgruppe Kruger at Belyj and Kampfgruppe von der Meden widened, allowing the Soviet 47th Mechanized Brigade to advance north to the Otscha River, before eventually being halted by the Kradschützen Bataillon ‘Grossdeutschland’. To the east, the German front disintegrated, leaving only a series of strongpoints that the Soviets could apparently overrun at will. On 30 November a decisive attack was launched by the Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps. In the morning, following a heavy snowfall, 75th Rifle Brigade and 4th Tank Regiment eventually failed, simply because the German defenders clung to their positions and fought to the last. In four days of combat, II./PzRgt 1 destroyed more than 40 Soviet tanks, and by 30 November it still had two PzKpfw III operational. Although desperate, the German situation was not hopeless. By mid-afternoon the leading elements of 12. Panzer Division joined Kampfgruppe von der Meden’s southern group and counter-attacked the Soviet spearheads at Ssemenzowo, pushing on to Petelino to relieve the encircled Kradschützen Bataillon 1 and eventually linking up with I./PzGrenRgt 1 before nightfall. The Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps switched to the defensive, now aware that the opportunity had been lost and that the German front was going to be restored.

Source :
“Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers” by Bryan Mark Rigg 
"Panzer Divisions: The Eastern Front 1941-43" by Pier Paolo Battistelli

04 February 2019

Dutch Soldiers Surrender at Lutterhoofdwijk (1940)

Image size: 1600 x 922 pixel. 428 KB
Date: Friday, 10 May 1940
Place: Lutterhoofdwijk Canal, Drenthe, Netherlands
Photographer: S. Pfitzer

Exhausted Dutch soldiers from 2e Compagnie / eerste Grensbataljon - who fought in the casemate 3056 at the 'Goseling' bridge over the Lutterhoofdwijk Canal - surrender to the Germans after heroic defense on 10 May 1940. From left to the right: privates Martinus Vugteveen, Sipke Beetstra, Barend Schuiling, and Sergeant Klaas van der Baaren. The sergeant in the background is equipped with the hemet M.27, while the other three soldiers in the front wear the helmet M.34. Sergeant K. van de Baaren and three of his men succeeded in surprising and halting a German reconnaissance group from a well camouflaged casemate at the Lutterhoofdwijk Canal on the southernmost tip of the Q Line. They were able to hold out for nearly four hours against a force of up to three squadrons of the reconnaisance group from 1. Kavallerie-Division. After the four exhausted defenders had finally surrendered, a further drama was only narrowly avoided. The irritated Germans, who had seen a well-loved officer killed, wanted to put them up against the wall as they had apparently misused the white flag during the battle. Luckily, the local innkeeper reported that he had waved a white cushion out of fear. The mayor of Coevorden, who happened to be passing, was able to convince the German officers that the defenders could not have seen the white flag from their casemate. The incident blew over. This picture was taken by S. Pfitzer and later published in the German magazine "Die Woche" for propaganda purposes.

Source :
"May 1940: The Battle for the Netherlands" by Herman Amersfoort and Piet Kamphuis
"The Dutch Steel Helmet 1916-1946" by Kevin de Joode

Fallschirmjäger Soldier during Operation Mercury

Image size: 1160 x 1600 pixel. 655 KB
Date: Tuesday, 20 May 1941
Place: Southern Greece
Photographer: Unknown

A German Fallschirmjäger (Paratrooper) with the rank of Gefreiter (Corporal) in his light olive green jump smock of the early version, armed to the teeth, during Unternehmen Merkur (Operation Mercury), German invasion of the Crete Island in Greece, May 1941. Unternehmen Merkur began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany began an airborne invasion of Crete. Greek and other Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island. After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would defeat the invasion. The next day, through communication failures, Allied tactical hesitation and German offensive operations, Maleme Airfield in western Crete fell, enabling the Germans to land reinforcements and overwhelm the defensive positions on the north of the island. Allied forces withdrew to the south coast. More than half were evacuated by the British Royal Navy and the remainder surrendered or joined the Cretan resistance. The defence of Crete evolved into a costly naval engagement; by the end of the campaign the Royal Navy's eastern Mediterranean strength had been reduced to only two battleships and three cruisers. This picture was first published in a very heavily illustrated book, 'Fliegende Front' (Flying Front), as written by Hauptmann Walter Eberhard Freiherr von Medem, and published by Verlag Die Wehrmacht in Berlin, Germany, in 1942. The book must be regarded as typical propaganda material to show the German population how well the war was progressing. ‘Die Wehmacht’ published a series of other propaganda books during the war. They also released sets of photo postcards from the war.

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03 February 2019

Canadian Tanks Landed at Reggio Calabria

Image size: 1600 x 1482 pixel. 289 KB
Date: Saturday, 4 September 1943
Place: Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy
Photographer: Alex Stirton

4 September 1943. This picture by Alex Stirton shows a tank from C Squadron of The Canadian Calgary Regiment is unloaded from LST F16 at Reggio Calabria on D plus one. The diary from Doc Alexander - a member of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps - reported: "Sept. 4: Loaded on LCT at 5 p.m. And sailed up the Messina Straits about twenty-five miles, then turned due East and sailed into the beach just north of Reggio. Landed at 10 p.m., a perfectly peaceful landing. Moved into the Town and bedded down for the night". A day previously, the Calgary Regiment assaulted the beaches of Reggio Calabria to little resistance and moved northwards with notable engagements in Potenza, Motta and Campobasso while supporting the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. During the World War II, due to its strategic military position, Reggio Calabria suffered a devastating air raid and was used as the invasion target by the British Eighth Army in 1943 which led to the city's capture. After the war Reggio recovered considerably.

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02 February 2019

German Paratroopers Rests at Crete

Image size: 1600 x 1068 pixel. 538 KB
Date: Tuesday, 20 May 1941
Place: Crete Island, Greece
Photographer: Unknown

German Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) rests after the Battle in Crete, 20 May 1941. Certainly a propaganda photo for the homeland, concealing the huge losses of the 'Green Devils'. They are wearing a light olive green jump smock of the early version, with the trousers that were darker than the smock. The Germans used colour-coded parachutes to distinguish the canisters carrying rifles, ammunition, crew-served weapons and other supplies. Heavy equipment like the Leichtgeschütz 40 was dropped with a special triple-parachute harness designed to bear the extra weight. The troopers also carried special strips of cloth which could be unfurled in pre-arranged patterns to signal low-flying fighters to coordinate air support and supply drops. In contrast with most nations' forces, who jumped with personal weapons strapped to their bodies, German procedure was for individual weapons to be dropped in canisters. This was a major flaw that left the paratroopers armed only with their fighting knives, pistols and grenades in the critical few minutes after landing. The poor design of German parachutes compounded the problem: the standard German harness had only a single riser to the canopy, and thus could not be steered. Even the 25% of paratroops armed with submachine guns were at a distinct disadvantage, given the weapon's limited range. Many Fallschirmjäger were shot attempting to reach their weapons canisters. The picture was taken from a very heavily illustrated book, "Fliegende Front" (Flying Front), as written by Hauptmann Walter Eberhard Freiherr von Medem and published by Verlag Die Wehrmacht in Berlin, Germany in 1942.

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King George VI during Award Ceremony for Canadian Soldiers

Image size: 1209 x 1600 pixel. 398 KB
Date: Monday, 31 July 1944
Place: Italia
Photographer: Unknown

The King of the Great Britain, George VI (center), with the commander of the 1st Canadian Corps, General-Lieutenant Edson Tommy Burns on the right (partly in the frame), and the commander of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, Major-General Bert Hoffmeister (2nd from right), in Italy on the day of the award ceremony for the Canadian soldiers and officers, who distinguished themselves in combat, 31 July 1944. On 18 July 1944 the 8th Army directed 1st Canadian Corps to begin concentrating in secret near Perugia, in anticipation that they would continue offensive operations by the Army and break through the Gothic Line. The Canadian Corps' role in the attack was to take over the eastern flank of the 10th Corps in the Central Appenines, permitting the 10th and 13th Corps to concentrate for the main assault. In the meantime, the 1st Canadian Division was to reinforce the 13th Corps at Florence. Following a Royal Visit on 31 July 1944, the 1st Division began moving from the Volturno Valley, followed by the remainder of the Corps. Elaborate deception schemes and rigorous security was enforced to hide the move. Unit flashes (as well as the distinctive ribbon of the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal) were stripped from uniforms and identification symbols were removed from vehicles while enemy intelligence was provided false information in hopes of convincing them they Corps was concentrating behind the 2nd Polish Corps.

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01 February 2019

Dutch Soldier Negotiating the Capitulation in 1940

Image size: 1600 x 1064 pixel. 429 KB
Date: Tuesday, 14 May 1940
Place: Willemstad, North Brabant, Netherlands
Photographer: Unknown

A Dutch officer equipped with the M.27 helmet negotiating the capitulation with a German officer in Willemstad on 14 May 1940. After the devastating bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe on that fateful day, the Germans threatened to bomb other Dutch cities if the Dutch forces refused to surrender. The General Staff knew it could not stop the bombers and ordered the Dutch army to cease hostilities. At 1900 hrs all hostilities were ceased, except in the province Zeeland. The battle of Holland had ended.

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"The Dutch Steel Helmet 1916-1946" by Kevin de Joode

31 January 2019

U.S. M8 Greyhound Near the German Border

Image size: 1600 x 1320 pixel. 682 KB
Date: Friday, 26 January 1945
Place: Near the Luxembourg-German border
Photographer: Unknown

Near the German border. January 26, 1945. An M8 Greyhound of U.S. 80th Infantry Division. Three crew members wear the helmet Mk 1 for British motorcyclists (Dispatch rider). The soldier who climbs the vehicle carries a set of USA winter suit. The German sign at left prohibits stopping and parking. In the Battle of the Bulge, The 80th was moved northward to Luxembourg and was hurled against the German salient, fighting at Luxembourg and Bastogne. By Christmas Day, men of the 80th were side-by-side with the tanks of the 4th Armored Division, battering forward through murderous opposition to help the 101st Airborne Division, besieged in Bastogne. Over frozen, snow-covered terrain, the attack gained nine bitter miles despite constant machine gun and mortar fire. The next day, the gap between the rescuers and the besieged was narrowed to 4000 yards. On 28 December, the 80th broke through, bringing relief to the 101st before driving the enemy across the Sure to Dahl and Goesdorf, 7 January 1945, and across the Clerf and Wiltz Rivers by 23 January. On 7 February 1945, the division stormed across the Our and Sauer Rivers at Wallendorf (Eifel), broke through the Siegfried Line, pursued the fleeing enemy to Kaiserslautern, 20 March, and crossed the Rhine, 27–28 March, near Mainz.

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29 January 2019

General Leclerc and French Tank Crew

Image size: 1600 x 1417 pixel. 633 KB
Date: Thursday, 17 August 1944
Place: Ecouché, Orne Department, Northwestern France
Photographer: Unknown

General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque (Commander of the 2nd French Armored Division) Speaks with crew members of the M4 Sherman - nicknamed "Auerstaedt" - of 1st Company / 501e Régiment de chars de combat (501e RCC), at Ecouché, Northwestern France, 17 August 1944. The crew members are: Bernard Gagneux (commander), Raymond Legrand (gunner), Robert Le Gall (machine gun driver), and René Perrot (driver). All of them wears USA work-overalls HBT (one piece herringbone twill): the first soldier wearing the first model of this suit, while the rest wears the second model. They were also wears US leggings and French berets. When the French army joins the Allies, in the principle they keep their uniforms, then they're started to use British uniforms and ended with US uniforms. They would use all kinds of helmets from all of these armies, mixed with French overcoat headwear and French badges and stripes. Leclerc himself wears a French cap, light-colored US shirt, USA Winter Jacket or Tank Jacket, and - as a distinctive sign - he also wear all kinds of British battledress or combat uniforms, while the pants and leggings is also a British one (in this case, by the look of the pocket button, it is possibly a 1940 Pattern).

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Maneuvers of British Armored Division

Image size: 1106 x 1600 pixel. 531 KB
Date: Tuesday, 29 September 1942
Place: Malton, Yorkshire, England
Photographer: Unknown

Malton in Yorkshire, 29 September 1942. Maneuvers of the 42nd Armored Division. On the right is General Sir Bernard Paget (Commander of the Territorial Forces), who takes the top of the two pieces with his greenish color and brown pants of the Battledress. On the left is Sir Anthony Eden (Minister of Foreign Affairs), who takes the complete set of two pieces and has inserted the underside of the jacket inside the pants. British soldiers usually wear the two piece suit of work (Two piece denim overalls), as it serves as an instruction suit work, a combat uniform in summer, or can be worn over the Battledress in winter. The colors vary from a very light brown to a whitish greenish hue. The Denim Tank Suit itself is a whole plethora of color that varies from green to yellowish-green. This suit began to deliver from 1944 onwards, so what the officer wear in this picture is the two pieces, except the one on the right that carries the Battledress jacket. Denim Overalls is defined by Jean Bouchery in the book "The British Soldier" volume one.

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23 June 2018

Dutch Civilian Load a Canadian Truck with Food

Image size: 1600 x 1584 pixel. 52,4 KB
Date: Thursday, 3 May 1945
Place: Wageningen, Netherlands
Photographer: Alex Stirton

Along the Rhenen-Wageningen road, Netherlands: Dutch civilians unloading food from a Canadian truck to the town dump, following agreement amongst Germans, Dutch and Canadians about the ground distribution of food to the Dutch population. 3 May 1945. Air drops of food by the British and United States had started on April 29th and lasted till May 8th. At the meeting in Achterveld on April 30 both sides decided that the transport by air alone would not suffice. A second operation, codenamed Faust, would also be launched. Two hundred allied trucks from the 21st Army Group would bring food to Rhenen, starting May 2nd.  Rhenen was at that moment a city on the German side of the frontline. In Rhenen the trucks would go over in the hands of Dutch truck drivers, who would take the food further into occupied Holland. According to the plan, 1000 tons of food would be transported daily by the Wageningen - Rhenen road. This photograph was taken by Alex Stirton.

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16 June 2018

Food Negotiations Between German and the Canadians

Image size: 1600 x 1205 pixel. 403 KB
Date: Monday, 30 April 1945
Place: Achterveld, Netherlands
Photographer: Ernest DeGuire

Food negotiations begin. German and Canadian negotiators arrive at a schoolhouse, where they secretly discuss supplying food to the starving Dutch people still in German-held areas. While 2nd Corps of the 1st Canadian Army was crossing the Rhine River in late March 1945, 1st Corps was on a massive redeployment from the Italian front — through the Mediterranean and up through the south of France — to join the 1st Canadian Army advance into Germany and The Netherlands. Moving into northern Netherlands the Canadians effectively cut off the 117,000 German troops in western Holland, leaving them with no means of escape. The Germans were defeated and the exhausted Canadian soldiers could see the end. Nobody wanted to be the last man killed in this war in the cold bleak months of early 1945. But the occupying Germans were still fighting, and the occupied Dutch were still suffering serious privation under them. The oppressors had flooded the farmlands of western Netherlands and blockaded food and supplies to civilians. The abject neglect of the Dutch by the occupying Germans caused the death of at least 18,000 civilians in the terrible famine known as the Hunger Winter. The picture was taken by Ernest DeGuire on 30 April 1945 at Achterveld, Netherlands.

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15 June 2018

American, Soviet and British Soldiers at Elbe

Image size: 1432 x 1600 pixel. 695 KB
Date: Wednesday, 25 April 1945
Place: Torgau an der Elbe, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

An American, a Soviet and a British soldier share Camel Cigarettes, at Torgau an der Elbe, April, 25th 1945. On that day American and Soviet - even some British troops - decided to meet each other at the Elbe River near Torgau, Germany. It took some work, translators, and lots of discussion through the translators and officers on the radio but, the now famous meeting was put together. Soviet, British, and American forces embraced each other, some even kissed one another, out of joy that Germany had been split in two and the war was finally coming to a close. However, the war was not yet won and many would still be killed. Some were not even killed in combat but by drunks, accidents, etc. The Meeting at the Elbe became a popular example of peace once had and chances of peace during the Cold War. Several songs were written about it and its date, April 25th, was even considered being made a “World Peace Day” but unfortunately it was rejected by the UN. However, those who were there never forgot it and for many it touched them deeply. The picture was colorised by Paul Kerestes from Romania.

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03 June 2018

Canadian Soldiers with Their Dutch Girlfriends

Image size: 1600 x 1232 pixel. 82.5 KB
Date: Friday, 16 November 1945
Place: Amersfoort, Netherlands
Photographer: Ken Bell

16 November 1945: Though the victory against the German in Europe came in May 1945, some of the young Canadian soldiers would live in The Netherlands well in to 1946 before becoming eligible to come home to Canada. Here, personnel of 4th Canadian Armoured Division and their Dutch fiancées.Left to right: Grenadier W.G. Dobbin with Wilhelmina De Groot, Grenadier R.A. Jennings with Rita Nies, Corporal E.P. Weiss with Nancy Raven, and Private N. Landry with Aaltaga Berends. It is estimated that approximately 43,500 war brides went to Canada following the demobilization of Canadian troops. Accompanying them were some 21,000 children born to European mothers and Canadian military fathers. The picture was taken by photographer Ken Bell at Amersfoort, Netherlands. Now becoming the collection of Library and Archives Canada No. a140422.

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09 April 2018

British Soldiers Going to the Front

Image size: 1600 x 1074 pixel. 362 KB
Date: Friday, 29 September 1939
Place: Somewhere in England
Photographer: Unknown

Pictured above are British soldiers from the BEF (British Expeditionary Forces) preparing to ship out to France for the newly begun Second World War, September 29th, 1939. From September 1939 to April 1940 there was a period of time known as the "Phoney War." After the outbreak of war in September 1939, France and Britain had declared war on Germany but made no real action except sending French troops to the border and British Expeditionary Forces to the Belgian, Luxembourg, German, and Italian borders. The French and British adopted a mainly defensive strategy and relied pretty much on the Maginot Line and BEF forces on the Belgian border. During this period of time the British and French began air raid drills and conscription into their armies. Britian, expecting that it's cities would be devastated by bomb attacks, began a massive evacuation of children from areas considered to be at high risk of being bombed (i.e. major cities.) Hospitals were emptied to free beds for bombing casualties. Entertainment venues were closed. The snakes in the London Zoo are even killed for fear that a bomb might free them to roam the devastated capital! When bombing failed to materialize, life went back to a relatively normal way but the Allied citizens were still weary and reluctant about a new world war as a vast majority had seen or heard of the carnage during World War I. Civilians were issued gas masks, ration cards, and other essentials in the event of a bombing or even invasion. The French sent probes over the border but this was the most aggressive action they took on the Western Front, and this would be one of their gravest mistakes. In May 1940 the Germans invaded the Low Countries and then in June they overran France.

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08 April 2018

Italian Refugees with New Zealand Soldier

Image size: 1600 x 1070 pixel. 601 KB
Date: Saturday, 3 June 1944
Place: Sora, Lazio, Frosinone, Italy
Photographer: George Frederick Kaye

Italian refugees are brought to the town of Sora, Italy, from heavily shelled areas in an ambulance jeep driven by C.P. Kerrisk of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 3 June 1944. On this day, the 2nd New Zealand Division (led bc charismatic Bernard Freyberg) captured the town of Sora after the advance from Monte Cassino up into the upper Liri Valley. The advance was hampered by lack of communication between the infantry and the supporting tanks of B Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment, which were to work up the road from Sora. A Company claimed that it reached the road west of Campoli, but did not make contact with the tanks, which in turn reported that they could find no sign of the infantry. D Company also reported that it gained the road (on the right of A Company), and in doing so had taken 10 prisoners from 134 Regiment. A possible explanation of the inability of the infantry and tanks to join up may be that the tanks, proceeding in a compact bunch, had passed before the infantry reached the road. The picture was taken by George Frederick Kaye.

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